Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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Faith, Work and Leadership News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

YOUR WORK MATTERS!Hugh Welchel Quote

  • Do God’s Will, Not His Work. Bethany Jenkins writes “Let us, therefore, work, count, invest, measure, and report. But may we find no trust or identity in it.”
  • Seven Reasons Your Work Matters. Austin Burkhart writes “Many followers of Jesus live under the illusion that their work is not as important and God-honoring as the work of others. We’ve neglected Martin Luther’s teaching that all Christians are priests, regardless of occupation. Instead, we’ve created a hierarchy of jobs ranging from the most “spiritual” to the least.”
  • 8 Things My Workaholism is Causing Me. Chuck Lawless writes “I admit it: this blog post is both a confession and request for prayer. I’m a workaholic, and I know it.”
  • Three Reasons Evangelism Isn’t the Sole Reason for Your Work (but It’s Still Important). Hugh Whelchel writes “When we through faith embrace Christ, we should also be led to embrace the cultural mandate. We should all bring our faith and a desire to obey Christ into our daily work.”
  • How to Achieve Greatness. Steve Graves writes “The single most important muscle involved in this process is perseverance. It is a muscle that all great people have developed well.”
  • 8 Reasons You’re Exhausted, Overwhelmed, and Unproductive. Michael Hyatt writes “From where I sit there are eight workplace vitals we can check to establish a baseline of health.”
  • When a Pastor is also a Police Officer. Jason Cook interviews Brandon Murphy, a pastor and deputy sheriff in a large Southern city about how his faith integrates with his work.
  • The Power of Recognition. Alan Zimmerman writes “Most people work just hard enough to not get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.  But proper recognition, given the right way, can change all that.”
  • Your Personal Mission Statement Action Plan. Here is a free Personal Mission Statement guidebook that he states will help you “Declare to the world who you are, whom you serve, and why you matter”.
  • chance-the-rapper-artWhat Drake and Chance the Rapper Teach Us about Finding Fulfillment in Our Work. Alexander Bouffard writes “Two of the biggest hip-hop albums of the year, Drake’s Views and Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, were released within a month of each other (April and May, respectively). We can learn a thing or two about finding fulfillment in our work by comparing them.”
  • The Most Important Reason We Work. Phillip Holmes writes “In order to shift our misplaced motivation (to work), we need a theology of work.”
  • How Vocation Brings Dignity to Your Work. Tim Challies writes “No matter what your vocations are, they all carry the same great purpose: to do good to others and bring glory to God.”
  • The Power—and Danger—in Luther’s Concept of Work. I enjoyed two wonderful classes with Dan Doriani at Covenant Seminary. Here he writes “Martin Luther probably did more than any Protestant to establish the theology of work many Christians embrace today. Like no theologian before him, he insisted on the dignity and value of all labor. Luther did more than break the split between sacred and secular work—he empowered all believers to know their work served humanity and enjoyed God’s full blessing.”
  • Why Pastors Need to Help Their People Connect Faith and Work. This post from Made to Flourish states “Is it really the responsibility of pastors to teach their people how to connect their faith and work? There are two pressing factors that indicate that the answer is “yes.” In fact, this is both an urgent and important need.”

  • Christian Leaders Join Forces for Special Report on Faith and Work in The Washington Times. Thirty Christian leaders from business, political, cultural, and theological sectors have come together with The Washington Times and the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics to publish a special report on work, entitled, ”Faith at Work: Individual Purpose, Flourishing Communities.” You can download a copy here.
  • The Biblical Meaning of Success. Hugh Whelchel writes “The Parable of the Talents teaches us five important things about the biblical meaning of success while dispelling two great cultural lies.
  • Vocation and Commencement Addresses. Gene Veith writes “Mollie Hemingway has a great piece in the Federalist about vocation as a theme in commencement addresses.  So many of them miss the point of what vocation actually is.  But she corrects that, discussing three high-profile commencement speeches in light of the doctrine of vocation.”
  • Multiple Good Gifts from God. Here’s our prayer of the week from Scotty Smith.

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Whatever the Christian does he should always be doing it at its very best. Martyn Lloyd-Jones  
  • Next to faith this is the highest art: to be content with the calling in which God has placed you. Martin Luther
  • Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world. Tim Keller
  • The more you serve, the more valuable you become. Dan Rockwell
  • The leaders who get the most from their people are the leaders who care most about their people. Simon Sinek  
  • Our nation is threatening to tear itself apart. Our political leaders seem unable to help. Can America’s Christian leaders do any better? Albert Mohler
  • Your problem is not a vision crisis. It is a strategy crisis. Most leaders can cast a very clear vision but few can cast a clear strategy. Carey Nieuwhof 
  • Get comfortable doing what God called you to do. Not what other people think God called you to do. Carey Nieuwhof 
  • Leadership is your willingness to help someone else for their benefit. Leading people for your benefit is manipulation. Nick Saban

Tim Keller Quote

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEWS:

In the Name of JesusIn the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri J. M. Nouwen. The Crossroad Publishing Company. 107 pages. 1992
***

This short book is primarily the text for Nouwen’s address on Christian leadership in the twenty-first century on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Center for Human Development in Washington, D.C. His audience was priests and minsters. Nouwen had recently left Harvard and joined the L’Arche Daybreak community in Ontario, called to be the priest for mentally handicapped people and their assistants.  His life at at L’Arche offered him new words to use in speaking about Christian leadership in the future because he had found there all the challenges that were facing ministers of God’s Word.

In his address, Nouwen uses two stories from the Gospels: the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1–11) and the story of Peter’s call to be a shepherd (John 21:15–19).  He states that he is deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.

He states that the leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.  He writes that the desire to be relevant and successful will gradually disappear, and our only desire will be to say with our whole being to our brothers and sisters of the human race, “You are loved.”

He writes of the value of contemplative prayer for the leader of the future, stating that through contemplative prayer we can keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own heart and God’s heart.  He writes that the central question is “Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word, and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness?”

He states that Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time, but that their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.

He tells us that somehow we have come to believe that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we are called to lead. But he wonders how we can lay down our life for those with whom we are not even allowed to enter into a deep personal relationship? He tells us that laying down our life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life.

He tells us that the leadership about which Jesus speaks is of a radically different kind from the leadership offered by the world. It is a servant leadership, in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who needs the people as much as they need their leader. He writes that it is clear that a whole new type of leadership is asked for in the church of tomorrow, a leadership that is not modeled on the power games of the world, but on the servant-leader Jesus, who came to give his life for the salvation of many.

He writes that much Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Instead, he tells us, the way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.

Nouwen writes that Jesus sends the Christian leader out to be shepherds, and He promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go.

The book includes a helpful Study Guide, which will allow you to build on his short, but powerful message on Christian leadership, whether you read this individually or with others.

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

work mattersWork Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson

If you find yourself anywhere on the spectrum from workaholic to weekend warrior, it’s time to bridge the gap between Sunday worship and Monday work.  Striking a balance between theological depth and practical counsel, Tom Nelson outlines God’s purposes for work in a way that helps us to make the most of our vocation and to join God in his work in the world. Discover a new perspective on work that will transform your workday and make the majority of your waking hours matter, not only now, but for eternity.

Dr. Nelson is the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas City and also the President of Made to Flourish, a pastors’ network for the common good. This is one of the better books that I have read on integrating faith and work.  This week we look at highlights from

Chapter 7: Work and the Common Good

  • Scripture teaches that our work is about more than financial remuneration, making a profit, economic self-interest, or career advancement. We were created with work in mind, but the work God had in mind for us has a communal nature and responsibility.
  • As followers of Jesus, one of our primary stewardships is to be our brother’s keeper. One of the most important ways we fulfill this charge is through our vocations. The work we are called to do is a God-ordained means where we, in very tangible ways, care for God’s good world, contribute to the needs of others, and foster the common good.
  • When we speak of the common good, we are describing all the various aspects of contemporary life that contribute positively to human flourishing both as individuals and as communities. The Protestant Reformers connected vocation to human flourishing and the common good. Martin Luther’s understanding of vocation was deeply embedded in our calling as workers to promote the well-being of others and our world.
  • Luther’s theology of vocation emphasized a primary way we love our neighbor is in and through our work. John Calvin also saw human work through the lens of the common good.
  • One of the main purposes of our work is that in and through our vocations our own practical needs are met and the common good is fostered.
  • Though we don’t always feel it or see it directly, as we do our work as an act of worship for the glory of God, we can be confident that we are contributing to the important work that our heavenly Father is doing in our world.
  • In and through our vocations we have the opportunity to extend common grace to others, and in doing so we foster the common good.
  • As followers of Jesus who embrace common grace, we are called to be honest and considerate in our workplaces. We should be quick to praise others for their successes and contributions and seek practical ways to be helpful and caring.
  • Be attentive to ways you can express and model Christlike gentleness and servanthood. Be a good neighbor—not just where you live, but also where you work.
  • Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan has profound implications for the workplaces we indwell and the neighborly love we are to incarnate there.
  • Neighborly love and the common grace it exhibits toward others is the high bar we are to strive for in our daily work.
  • As fellow sinners in need of the gospel’s saving grace, we are called to interact with others in our work settings with humility and a teachable spirit rather than any pharisaical attitude of moral superiority.
  • One of the best ways to avoid an “us versus them” mentality in the workplace is to pray regularly for those we work with. I find that when I am praying for others, I am much more inclined to extend common grace to them, exhibiting workplace courtesy, civility, and respect.
  • When we embrace common grace for the common good, we actively promote justice and fairness in the workplace.
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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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